How to measure body fat without a caliper

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Table of Contents

1 How to use our body fat calculator?
2 Body fat percentage formula
3 How to calculate body fat percentage?
4 Body fat percentage chart

Body fat percentage calculator is used to calculate body fat percentage in the human body. It determines the total percentage of fat in the body by taking various measurements of the body. It is a very efficient and robust calculator that produces results in no time.

In this post, we will explain how to measure body fat percentage, body fat percentage men, body fat percentage women, body fat percentage formula, and much more.

How to use our body fat calculator?

To use our ideal body fat percentage calculator, follow the below steps:

  • Select your gender in the given input box.
  • Enter your age in the given input box.
  • Enter your height in the given input box and select the unit of measurement. It offers multiple units to measure.
  • Enter your weight. You can use lbs., tone, gram, kilogram, pound, and ounce.
  • Enter your neck circumference in the given input box.
  • Enter your waist circumference.
  • Press the Calculate button to see your body fat percentage.

It will give you the body fat, body fat percentage, army body fat, navy body fat, lean body mass, and ideal body mass.

Body fat percentage formula

The formula for body fat percentage is as follow:

Lean body mass (women) = ( weight × 0.732 ) + 8.987 + wrist 3.140 − waist × 0.157 − hip × 0.249 + forearm × 0.434 =\left(\text\times 0.732\right)+8.987+\dfrac<\text><3.140>-\text\times 0.157-\text\times 0.249+\text\times 0.434 = ( weight × 0 . 7 3 2 ) + 8 . 9 8 7 + 3 . 1 4 0 wrist ​ − waist × 0 . 1 5 7 − hip × 0 . 2 4 9 + forearm × 0 . 4 3 4

How to calculate body fat percentage?

How much body fat do I have? How to find body fat percentage? What is my body fat percentage? If you have these kinds of questions in your mind, you are surely in the right place.

To calculate the body fat percentage, follow these steps carefully:

  1. Measure your weight and note down.
  2. Measure your waist size and note down.
  3. Measure your forearm and note down. This measurement is only for women.
  4. Measure your wrist and note down. This measurement is only for women.
  5. Measure your hip and note it down.
  6. Substitute the values in lean mass formula to get the lean body mass.
  7. Calculate the body fat weight by subtracting the lean body mass from your weight.
  8. Now substitute the body fat weight and your weight in body fat percentage formula to get the body fat percentage.

Example:

A 21 years old boy Sam has a weight of 40 kg. His other measurements are:

Find the body fat percentage of Sam?

Solution:

As we already have all the measurements, we only need to substitute values in the above equations, which is step number 6. So we start from step 6.

Step 1: First, calculate the lean body mass.

Step 2: Calculate body fat weight.

Step 3: Calculate the body fat percentage.

Body fat percentage chart

Below is the body fat percentage table for men and women.

by Jay Kim on April 18, 2017

How to measure body fat without a caliper

Anyone who has returned from vacation committed to getting rid of the belly they just spent a week acquiring while sipping pina coladas on the beach knows this routine well.

You step on the scale in the morning, workout, step on it again, and pray for a change.

We measure our fitness in terms of our weight, and this is simply wrong. Your weight could stay the same over the next year, and you could still go from beer belly to six pack abs.

If you want to get fit, you should focus on your body fat percentage , not your weight.

We’ve established on this blog that losing weight is not enough to achieve a ripped physique. If you lose weight without shedding body fat, you’ll simply end up “skinny fat.”

Of course, to lose body fat, you must first know your body fat percentage.

This is a surprisingly controversial topic. Body fat percentage is inarguably the deciding factor in how defined your muscles are, but we still fight quite a bit over how body fat should be measured.

We’re going to explore four methods of measuring body fat in this post, and by the end, you might be surprised which method receives my endorsement. (Hint: Think low tech). At the very end of the article, I’ll explain my #1 fitness hack for measuring your body fat accurately, using things you already have in your home.

Let’s start with a highly accurate – and expensive – method of measurement.

1. DXA (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry)

How to measure body fat without a caliper

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is the gold standard for body fat measurement.

While DXA (pronounced “DEXA”) was designed mainly to measure bone density and monitor osteoporosis in older women, bodybuilders quickly figured out that the scans also revealed body fat mass.

Getting a DXA scan is quick and painless.

You simply lie flat while the “arm” passes over your body and x-rays you from head to toe.

I’ve had a DXA scan completed, and while the results were accurate, finding a facility with the equipment is inconvenient and the process is expensive (about $100 per scan).

Unless you’re wealthy, DXA isn’t a viable long-term option for measuring body fat.

2. Hydrostatic Weighing Method

How to measure body fat without a caliper

Before DXA hit the scene, the hydrostatic weighing method was the most accurate way to measure body fat (some people would argue it’s still the most accurate).

If you can find a facility that offers it, hydrostatic weighing is an involved process:

  1. You are weighed on land.
  2. You are lowered into the water.
  3. You are asked to expel all the air from your lungs.
  4. You must remain motionless.
  5. Your underwater weight is measured three times.
  6. Your three weights are averaged.

I’ve never used this method, but given the chance, I would try it just for informational purposes.

Like the DXA method, hydrostatic weighing is too inconvenient and costly ($100) to serve as your recurring method of body fat measurement.

3. Bioelectrical Impedance

How to measure body fat without a caliper

You see this method used at nearly every gym – fitness bros step on the scale and hold the handles as an electrical charge is sent through their body.

The test is easy and quick, and since it’s in every gym, it must be accurate… right?

Sadly, this method is the least accurate because it’s highly sensitive to your hydration level.

Your percentage could vary widely from day to day based on how much water you drank.

If you’re curious why this method is used in every gym if it’s not accurate, check out this article we did detailing the fitness marketing monster. It’s eye-opening.

4. Pull-and-Pinch With Body Fat Calipers

How to measure body fat without a caliper

For an economical and accurate way to measure body fat, go with body fat calipers.

Studies have shown the accuracy of calipers rivals more expensive alternatives.

You simply “pinch and pull” the fat away from your body and clamp it between the calipers.

Best practice is to measure body fat in at least these three places:

  • Chest
  • Abs
  • Thighs

I recommend the Accu-Measure Fitness Body Fat Calipers , which cost less than $10.

Fitness Hack: Replace Your Caliper With A Ruler

How to measure body fat without a caliper

If you lose your caliper, or if you think $10 is still an obscene expense, you can also make your own caliper-like contraption easily.

Have a friend pinch your body fat at the same places you’d measure with your caliper (make sure you have the sort of relationship where asking them to pinch your body fat won’t be weird), and then measure the pulled skin with a ruler.

Inches roughly correlate (actual percentages can fluctuate by about 2%-3% depending on your body) to body fat percentages as follows:

  • 1/4-inch is 7 percent
  • 1/2 inch is 11 percent
  • 3/4 inch is 15 percent
  • 1 inch is 20 percent
  • 1 1/2 inch is 25 percent
  • 2 inches is 30 percent
  • 2 1/2 inches is 35 percent

How Often Should You Measure?

Although there’s no perfect answer, I’d advise checking your body fat at least once a week.

Most people I know who are cutting weight measure every morning to ensure they have as many data points as possible to work with (yes, like a science experiment).

However, daily testing can cause meltdowns if your number isn’t dropping.

Be patient and keep your focus on the trend, not the daily grind. If you’re following the Hack Your Fitness program to the letter, your percentage will drop over time.

Once you hit single digit body fat and get to show off your six-pack abs, you won’t care if you’re half a percentage more or less than you appear to be.

Thanks for signing up! I’m excited that you’re ready to put in the work to take your career to the next level. Check your email for the free guide.

LBM – Lean Body Mass

FBM – Fat Body Mass

How to use body fat calculator

Calculating body fat level with no tools

  1. Set YOUR TOOL option to: “WITHOUT ANY TOOL”
  2. Set gender (male/female) and the measurement system (imperial/metric)
  3. Enter your measurements
  4. Click: Calculate

Calculating body fat level with tape

  1. Set YOUR TOOL option to: “TAPE”
  2. Set gender (male/female) and the measurement system (imperial/metric)
  3. Select one of the method for calculation: Covert Bailey Method, Us Navy Method, Heritage BMI, YMCA
  4. Enter your measurements (How to measure with tape)
  5. Click: Calculate

Calculating body fat level with caliper

There are three methods available – 3, 4 and 7 skin folds.

You will need a caliper to measure the thickness of the skin folds. If you do not have a caliper, you can use a less accurate body fat calculator using tape.

The measurement should be taken at least twice in the same point. Use average value to enter into the form.

  1. Set YOUR TOOL option to: “BODY FAT CALIPER”
  2. Set gender (male/female) and the measurement system (imperial/metric)
  3. Select one of the method for calculation: Jackson/Pollock 3-Points, 4-Points, 7-Points
  4. Enter your measurement (Scroll down to see how to measure with body fat caliper)
  5. Click: Calculate

How to measure body fat without a caliper

How to measure body fat without a caliper

Thigh

A vertical fold on the front of the leg midway between the hips. Knee slightly bent.

Chest

Skin fold between the nipple and armpit. Grasp the fold at an angle of about 45 degrees and closer to the armpit, i.e. about 1/3 of the distance between the armpit and the nipple.

Abdominal

You should catch a fold vertically located about 2 cm from the navel. If there is a problem with catching the fold vertically, you can take a measurement on the horizontal fold.

Triceps

Catch a vertical skin fold at the back of the straight arm halfway between the elbow and shoulder.

Suprailiac

Catch a skin fold at an angle of about 45 degrees located about 2 cm above the hip bone.

Subscapular

Find the lower end of the shoulder blade. A skin fold should be caught approximately 2 cm below the tip of the shoulder blade at a 45-degree angle.

Midaxillary (Axilla)

Catch vertical fold halfway between armpit and hip bone

To get the result, select gender, enter age and weight, and enter the measurements taken. All fields are mandatory.

What are the levels of body fat?

Adipose tissue is necessary for the daily functioning of the body. It acts as a shock absorber for joints and protects internal organs, helps regulate body temperature, stores vitamins and helps the body gain energy when food is lacking.

Everyone needs some body fat to live a healthy and active life. However, a large excess of body fat leads to obesity, which can cause serious health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other complications.

The average man’s body contains 15-17% body fat, while the average woman somewhere between 18-22%.

For athletes, these values are lower and range from 6%-12% for men and 12%-20% for women.
The table below presents the percentage of fat for men and women depending on the sport.

How to measure body fat without a caliper

Body fat is the excess of body tissue that resists compression. There are several methods for measuring body fat and it can be expressed as either a percent or in absolute terms, which are often preferred to consider the amount of fatness.

The most efficient method of determining body composition is underwater weighing where you can measure your total weight, then your body fat and finally your weight with the air in your lungs.

This last number is called your residual volume, which is determined by measuring the amount of air you exhale after underwater weighing and using a standard value for that figure.

The same method can be used to determine total body water.

If this sounds like too much trouble, then simply use a scale that can measure body fat. Many scales include bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), which is a quick measurement that uses an electrical current to determine your body composition.

This method requires you to stand on the scale with bare feet and may not be as accurate as underwater weighing. BIA estimates are often used in combination with skinfolds to better estimate body fat, and is the preferred method of measuring body composition in competitive athletes.

The most common measurement tool is skinfold calipers that measure pinch thicknesses at specific sites on your body called skinfolds.

To do this simply take a set of calipers with you while you are getting measured at a tailor or a clothing store. This is the cheapest method for estimating body fat percentage; however, it can be somewhat time consuming to measure several different sites on your body each time you determine your body fat.

It’s also easy to overestimate or underestimate how much muscle and body fat you have if you aren’t very careful with the measurements.

The most accurate method of determining body composition is underwater weighing where you can measure your total weight, then your body fat and finally your weight with the air in your lungs.

This last number is called your residual volume, which is determined by measuring the amount of air you exhale after underwater weighing and using a standard value for that figure.

To calculate body fat percentage, add your waist and hip measurements, and then subtract the neck measurement to determine your circumference value.

Divide this by your weight, then multiply the result by 100 to find your body fat percentage. This method requires no special equipment and takes only a few minutes, but it can be somewhat inconvenient as you’ll need someone with access to a pool or large scale.

Use whatever method is most convenient for you, however skinfold measurements require more time and attention than other methods, so they’re best for people who are somewhat overweight or obese who want to monitor their progress.

If you’re very lean you may not be getting the most accurate result since your body fat can be hard to measure.

The following guide will provide specific instructions on how to find your body fat percentage using several different methods.

If you’re having problems, make sure to read the instructions carefully and also keep in mind that measuring body fat takes some practice.

For best results recheck your measurements once a month or more often if you are trying to lose weight.

Top 5 Ways to loose Body Fat

Loosing Body Fat is probably one of the hardest things for people to do. And if you ask anyone who has loose body fat, they will tell you that it can be a long and boring process.

The key to loosing body fat is consistency. We all know that there are certain things we should not eat or items in our diet that we should stay away from such as, fast food, sugary snacks and treats. We know what we should not eat, but when it comes to eating healthy in order to loose body fat many of us run into problem after problem.

The first year or so is the hardest. Many people give up on their health goals because they do not see any kind of progress for months and sometimes years. And this is what gets many people off track.

People think that it will take them years to loose body fat, but that’s not true! When you are consistent and keep going after your goals without giving up that is when you will get the results you want!

The key to loosing body fat is being dedicated. It’s taking the time to workout even when you don’t feel like it and eating right even if you are not hungry. When one of those days hits, think about why you started this journey in the first place!

Here are some tips on how to loose body fat:

1.Get rid of all alcohol except red wine because the others will cause you to gain more belly fat.

2.Stay away from fatty and greasy foods or fast food, because they will only cause your body fat to increase.

3.Eat as much protein as possible with every meal and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

4.Try working out at different times each day (morning vs night) because some people have different metabolism rates.

5.Try to workout with a friend or someone who is trying to loose body fat so you can motivate each other.

6.Don’t try to loose body fat too fast, because your weight will bounce up and down if you do this. Instead start out slow and steady on the treadmill or exercise bike until things start becoming easier for you.

This calculator will help you to calculate your body fat percentage when using a skin fold caliper. The body fat calculations are based on the *Jackson/Pollock 7-Site Caliper Method.

A skin fold test with a special skin-fold caliper is considered to be the more accurate way to estimate body fat percentage than methods that use simple tape measurements.

In addition to the features common to most other online body fat calculators, this one also includes:

  • Standard and metric options.
  • Pictures showing where on the body the caliper measurements should be taken from, for both males and females.
  • Built-in, mini, popup calculators that do all of the averaging and converting for you.
  • A dynamic pie chart that graphically compares your fat weight to lean body weight.

If you don’t have a skin fold caliper, I suggest you try the Military Body Fat Calculator instead, which only requires a tape measure and 2 or 3 body part measurements.

Or, if you do have a skin fold caliper but would prefer fewer than seven sites, feel free to use the 3-Site Body Composition Calculator, which is based on a 3-site skin fold test.

* Jackson, A.S. & Pollock, M.L. (1978) Generalized equations for predicting body density of men. British J of Nutrition, 40: p497-504.
* Jackson, et al. (1980) Generalized equations for predicting body density of women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 12:p175-182.

7-Site Skin Fold Test Calculator

Calculate 7-site caliper test, standard or metric, female or male, with images of measurement sites available under the Terms tab.

Selected Data Record:

A Data Record is a set of calculator entries that are stored in your web browser’s Local Storage. If a Data Record is currently selected in the “Data” tab, this line will list the name you gave to that data record. If no data record is selected, or you have no entries stored for this calculator, the line will display “None”.

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Body Fat Scales

The Tanita, made famous by The Biggest Loser, is a body fat percentage scale that uses bioelectrical impedance (BIA) to gauge the amount of lean mass, water, and fat in your body by sending a current from the metal plates under your feet through your body and timing how long it takes.

While this method for measuring body fat is a relatively cheap option—you can find scales like this one for as little as $19.99 at any department store, and you can use them in the privacy of your own home—they are notoriously unreliable. Take a huge drink of water and watch your percentage change by up to 10 percent. (That’s right—not all body fat measurements are super reliable. Read Anna Victoria’s body fat measuring experience to see why.)

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Handheld BIA Device

Often seen in gyms, handheld devices like the Omron use the same principle as the body fat percentage scales but they suffer from the same reliability issues as the at-home scales and can fluctuate wildly for measuring body fat depending on your hydration level. While they are easy to use—just grab the handles and hold!—they can also be pricey. Plus, they can’t tell the difference between visceral and subcutaneous fat.

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Calipers

Also known as the “pinch test”, this involves another person (usually a personal trainer) using a set of calipers to measure the thickness of your skin at certain points on your body. The numbers are then tallied and plugged into a formula that estimates your body fat percentage based on your age and gender.

Generally considered more accurate than the body fat percentage scales, results can vary widely depending on who is administering the test and his or her skill level. Plus, calipers can only measure subcutaneous fat. (Here’s what you need to know about the different types of fat and why they matter.)

It doesn’t hurt, but it does require you to show a little skin (tummy and thigh areas), and it’s not something you can do yourself. There are do-it-yourself calipers kits you can buy pretty cheaply, but know that it’s hard to measure the correct spots on your own body.

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The Bod Pod

This expensive space-age looking machine is often the first choice of professional athletes and sports teams as a body fat analyzer. It works by measuring the volume of air you displace inside the pod, and then runs it through a complicated mathematical equation to measure your fat, lean muscle mass, and resting metabolic rate, among other things.

To use the Bod Pod, you need to wear a tight swimsuit and tuck your hair into a swim cap, as any air trapped in your clothing or hair could alter your results. After weighing yourself, you sit inside the machine (and breath) for several minutes. It’s not uncomfortable, though a little claustrophobic.

While the Bod Pod is much more accurate than all previously mentioned body fat percentage scale methods, it still uses an equation based on group-selected estimates. What’s more, “lean, young females” is the group for which it’s most likely to be off. Other downsides are that you have to go to a special facility (check your local university) and it can be a lengthy process.

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    how to measure body fat without calipers?

    i’m wondering how to measure body fat without calipers? i’m wondering because of my recent gains (

    10lbs in around a month and a week n a half), and i’m sure that it’s not all lean mass (well, maybe? lol). thanks in advance for the help!

    have to guesstimate with weight and waist measurements

    do you know what your waist was then and now?

    there are various formulas and even calculators like this one http://www.weightsnet.com/Misc/calculators.html

    and you get a different answer with all of them! (seriously, but the differences only equate to a small amount of weight, so you’re okay)

    Jason Gold, B.S., C.P.T.
    Exercise/Fitness Specialist

    24kt Fitness Studio
    Private Personal Training
    www.24ktfitness.com

    Advocare Nutrition Distributor
    www.advocare.com/13127876

    “I don’t have an ego, I just love how awesome I am!” -$.99

    yeah, u just use different calculators until u get an answer u like, hehe

    I like 8%. Do you know of a calculator that will give me that number?

    yes. but you have to put in your gf’s waist size

    have to guesstimate with weight and waist measurements

    do you know what your waist was then and now?

    there are various formulas and even calculators like this one http://www.weightsnet.com/Misc/calculators.html

    thanks! neat calculator, not too sure about the accuracy but wtv, it’s without calipers so it’ll have to do. with some common sense and the calc i guess i’m around 12%. now i know at least roughly what to aim to get rid of. 5-8% to go!

    Fat Caliper is not available in my town so I am also try to find out the accurate way to measure bodyFat level.

    there was one in the book the nautilaus diet by ellington darden. it says to have someone pinch the back of your arm in between the elbow and shoulder and try to get only fat, no muscle, then measure how wide the pinch is. here is the chart to compare it to for men

    1/4in- 5-9%
    1/2in- 9-13%
    3/4in- 13-18%
    1in- 18-22%
    1 1/2- 22-27%
    2in- 27-32%
    2 1/2in- 32-37%

    my thread http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=11891327
    My new site http://sites.google.com/site/grim83/

    It isn’t that they cant see the solution.
    It is that they cant see the problem.
    -G.K. Chesterton

    No training session can be wasted
    by a man who is determined to succeed.
    -Brooks Kubik

    I agree, not sure about accuracy. I also wonder how this calculator figures in height? I does give a very quick ball park though.

    I believe that in the losing fat forum they have an “estimate your body fat” thread where you post your picture.

    with that calculator, i am like 8% body fat. which is obviously wrong. lol

    1- Look in mirror
    2- If no see lower abs don’t keep fulking.
    3- If see lower abs, eat a little more than usual 2-3x per week.
    4- Repeat the above 3 steps in 1 week

    by JP – Updated: 09/24/2016

    How to measure body fat without a caliper

    The first thing you will need to take skinfold measurements is skinfold calipers (body fat calipers).

    There are fancy models out there, but in my opinion you are just fine with the cheaper models.

    AccuFitness (Accu-Measure) is a leading supplier and offer a simple little plastic caliper called the Fitness 3000 . It is easy to use with a nice sliding scale and click feature to let you know when to get your reading (excellent for improving the reliability of the measurement).

    At Amazon, you should be able to find the Fitness 3000 for less than $10. Also, keep in mind that you want to complete your body composition tracking program with body tape measurements. For this, you need a flexible tape and you will find it easy to get a Accufitness Myotape (an excellent product) thrown in with your skinfold caliper purchase ( Fitness 3000 and MyoTape Package ).

    The Seven Skinfold Sites

    If you don’t have a partner and are not freakishly flexible, you will not be able to get to all the 7 skinfold sites shown and listed below.

    That’s okay, men can just do 3 sites – chest, abdominal, and thigh. Women can also get a good body fat estimation with three sites – triceps, suprailiac, and thigh – but the triceps will be tough without a partner.

    How to measure body fat without a caliper

    • Chest – For men, get a diagonal pinch half way between the armpit and the nipple. Women need a diagonal pinch 1/3 of the way from the arm pit to the nipple.
    • Midaxillary – A vertical pinch on the midaxillary line which runs directly down from the center of the armpit. Raise your arm above your head and have your partner get these skinfold measurements just below the level of your nipple.
    • Subprailiac – A diagonal pinch just above the front forward protrusion of the hip bone.
    • Abdominal – A vertical pinch about one inch from your belly button.
    • Thigh – A vertical pinch halfway between the knee and top of the thigh.
    • Triceps – A vertical pinch halfway between the shoulder and the elbow.
    • Subscapular – A diagonal pinch directly below the shoulder blade.

    Five Tips For Accurate, Consistent Measurements

      • Take your skinfold measurements while standing.
      • Take all skinfold measurements on the same side of the body. Preferably the right side.
    • Pinch between your forefinger and thumb. Pinch deep enough to get the fat (you are looking for a double-thick pinch of skin) but not so deep that you start pulling muscle up. Pulling muscle up is pretty much impossible so don’t let it concern you all that much. With the skinfold in hand, you need to pinch hard to get the water out, hard enough that you cause minor discomfort.
    • Place the body fat calipers less than 1/2 inch from your pinch, midway between the crest and the base.
    • For each of the skinfold sites, take three measurements and use the average of those three. But don’t take the three measurements consecutively, instead run through all the sites three times. This will allow the skin to regroup between skinfold measurements. It will also help you develop some consistency.

    Consistency is the key . If you are having a friend take your measurements, which is the ideal thing to do, have that same friend take your skinfold measurements every time. If you have different people take your measurements, expect the results to be all over the place and basically useless.

    The Body Fat Percentage Formulas

    To get an overall number to use as your body fat percentage, you will need to plug your numbers into a formula. With your skinfold measurements in hand, check out the Guide’s online body fat percentage calculator . It will not only give you your body fat percentage but your lean body mass as well.

    The most commonly used equations for body fat calculations based on skinfold measurements are based on Jackson-Pollock’s equation for bone density and Siri’s formula to get body fat percentage from that: